Investigations

Corporate Investigations, Whistleblowing, Discrimination, Harassment, Disciplinary and Grievance Investigations

The Employment Group at No5 Barristers’ Chambers has a dedicated group of barristers specialising in Employment Investigations, involved in advising upon and/or conducting investigations, ranging from relatively minor disciplinary and grievance matters including those involving discrimination and harassment allegations, to carrying out special internal investigations regarding serious safeguarding breaches, fraud and/or regulatory breach.

A number of members of the team are very experienced in the Local Government and Healthcare sectors.  They are familiar with acting in cases in which safeguarding investigations operate in parallel with internal disciplinary and/or grievance processes.  We also deal with matters involving external regulators or the police.

All members of the group are specialists in employment law, and understand the need to ensure that competing issues need to be balanced in any investigation, whether they are the rights of the complainant, the interests of the employer, or the interests of those accused.

Expertise

Our dedicated Employment Investigations Team barristers provide the following services:

  • Conducting special internal investigations reporting to the Board (which may or may not be legally privileged depending on approach).
  • Conducting investigations as an independent investigator and producing an Investigation Report.
  • Providing legal support and advice to HR and/or managers during any investigation.
  • Providing training to managers who are designated officers involved in conducting investigations.
  • Drafting disciplinary, grievance, anti-harassment and Equal Opportunities policies and procedures.
  • Drafting whistleblowing policies and procedures.

Why instruct a barrister from the No5 Employment Investigations Team?

  • All members are Employment Law specialists.
  • Members are able to operate at short notice.
  • Our barristers range in experience from recently qualified to those with 20 plus years’ qualification, thus they are able to meet your needs in terms of costs, budget and seniority of barrister required.
  • We operate on a nationwide basis.
  • We offer value for money compared with our competitors.
  • In appropriate cases, we accept instructions on a direct/public access basis.

If you would like further information or wish to instruct someone from the Employment Investigations Team, please contact [email protected]

Further information: types of investigations

Whistleblowing
Internal corporate investigations are becoming more common due to:

  • Increased awareness of legislative protection for workers seeking to rely on whistleblowing legislation; and
  • The emphasis by Government and the media that it is in the public interest to unearth unlawful practices at work, such as in breach of FCA Rules or under the Bribery Act 2010.

Organisations of all shapes and sizes need to ensure that, if an employee raises matters that may constitute a "protected disclosure" under the Employment Rights Act 1996, a proper investigation of the allegations takes place and appropriate steps are taken thereafter (including taking appropriate disciplinary action against any wrong-doers). A failure to take adequate steps may lead to criminal and regulatory investigations with adverse findings against the employer, negative publicity, and tribunal claims from employees.

Discrimination and Harassment Investigations
Allegations of discrimination, including harassment, are increasing in light of recent media coverage.  They are inherently difficult allegations to investigate, given the need to balance the need for astute legal analysis with sensitivity and tact.  Any reputable employer will want to root out discrimination in the workplace and put in place adequate protections against discrimination and harassment, but will also need to manage any legal liability that it may face in the event that discrimination is found.  Our barristers are able to assist in this delicate exercise, by ensuring a thorough investigation is conducted with a human touch.

Grievances
Grievances are infinite in variety and content, ranging from minor disputes between an employee and his/her manager, to collective grievances about terms and conditions affecting hundreds of staff. Not all grievances require legal advice and input, but in some cases, particularly where there is potential for litigation to arise, you may want to ensure that your investigation is robust and legally watertight.

Misconduct and Disciplinary Investigations
Although the law concerning misconduct is well established, employers regularly fall foul of the requirement to complete an investigation that is reasonable in all the circumstances, or procedural failings occur.  Our barristers can provide the necessary legal support to ensure that these risks are minimised.

Investigating Senior Executives
It is not uncommon for a barrister to be appointed to conduct an independent investigation in respect of a senior executive, where perhaps there is no-one more senior within the organisation to conduct the investigation themselves. This then allows the organisation’s solicitors the freedom to provide legally privileged advice to the Board on any investigation report, allowing the Board to discharge its duty to ensure a fair and impartial investigation has taken place, whilst also allowing the Board to ensure it takes appropriate action in the best interests of the organisation.

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